Hilarie Burton Was Reduced to Tears by a ‘One Tree Hill’ Sex Scene. Here’s What Could’ve Helped

Last week, Hilarie Burton opened up about a particularly upsetting sex scene incident on the set of One Tree Hill that she says made her feel ‘like a prostitute.’ While these types of stories were common before the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, things are steadily changing. 

Hilarie Burton spoke out on her podcast

Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton at a party
Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton during 2005/2006 WB UpFront – After Party | KMazur/WireImage

In a recent episode of her podcast Drama Queens, Burton opened up in detail about filming a sex scene with Chad Michael Murray that was particularly upsetting. 

Per Us Weekly, Burton said she was directed to kiss Murray “all the way down his body” and then take off his belt. While Murray did what he could to make it more comfortable for her, it simply wasn’t a good experience. 

“Chad was cool to leave a white tank top on underneath his button-up shirt so I wasn’t just kissing his bare body because that’s weird,” she said to former co-stars Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz, who co-host the podcast alongside her. 

“We’d all known each other for a couple of months [or] a couple of weeks? … I was so whacked out about it. They wanted me kissing all the way down his body, down to his belt. I don’t know that you see it, but I had to undo his belt.”

Burton then told the director that she felt it would be “inappropriate” to film more than three takes of the scene. The whole ordeal, Burton said, reduced her to tears. 

“I was, like, crying in my trailer,” she told Bush and Lenz. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this. It feels dirty. It feels like they’re trying to sex everything up. I felt like a prostitute. It was the first moment that I was, like, ‘I’m kissing someone for money. I’m getting paid to do this, like, performative [thing]’. … There’s a morality thing where you’re like, ‘Am I a sex worker in a way? Is this OnlyFans in 2003?’”

Sets now employ intimacy coordinators to mitigate experiences like Hilarie Burton’s

In the months and years following the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, productions have become increasingly aware of incidents like Hilarie Burton’s. That’s why many of them now employ what is known as ‘intimacy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYHRtn8J9Locoordinators.’ 

Per SAG-AFTRA, the on-set intimacy coordinator acts as “an advocate, a liaison between actors and production … in regard to nudity and simulated sex.”

An intimacy coordinator is also “a movement coach and/or choreographer in regards to nudity and simulated sex and other intimate and hyper-exposed scenes.” 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, these advocates have been around for years in live theater. But in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in 2017 and subsequent disclosures about his alleged sexual misconduct, film and television directors have been steadily populating their sets with intimacy coordinators to ensure the safety and comfort of their actors during sex scenes. 

HBO’s The Deuce was the first among them to employ an intimacy coordinator in 2018. 

Hilarie Burton’s unfortunate incident happened before the heightened awareness the industry now embraces. She went without the relative safety offered by a professional advocate that could have helped. 

Today, some of TV’s most popular series carefully employ intimacy coordinators to ensure their actors feel safe on set. The Affair, Watchmen, Sex Education, Deadwood, and Carnival Row have all employed them at one time or another. 

Bridgerton, the explosively popular (and sexy) Netflix drama, is a notable addition. Their intimacy coordinator, Lizzy Talbot, has been particularly busy, given the series’ sheer number of sexual scenes

“I don’t think I’ve ever spent as many days on set as I have on Bridgerton,” Talbot said in a January interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

With sweeping changes now taking foot in the industry, sex scenes will likely keep intimacy coordinators busier and busier. 

RELATED: ‘Bridgerton’: Phoebe Dynevor Called this Sex Scene ‘Miserable’ to Shoot